The PIAA board met Wednesday afternoon, Feb. 17, to approve mask rules for postseason games, the winter championship schedule, and discuss the start date for spring sports with reduced practice requirements possible, according to report by Allie Berube of ABC 27 in Harrisburg.
The general rule, set forth in an updated Order from the Pennsylvania Department of Health is that masks will be universally mandatory at all postseason PIAA events.
Everyone must wear a mask of face covering at all times when indoors, around other people not part of their household, and where social distancing requirements cannot be met. This rule applies to: athletes, coaches, cheerleaders, and spectators alike. These rules hold true during competition, workouts, and and on the sidelines.
This mandate is mandatory. With that, it is applied at the PIAA Inter-District Championship Tournament for all sports. It will require all team-affiliated personnel, including student-athletes (excluding swimmers) to wear a mask at all times while in the venue.
Mask exceptions can be granted if they fall under Section 3 of the Order. The PIAA will accept a certification from a school’s Principal or Athletic Director if they can justify that the athlete(s) in question qualify for exemption, according to Section 3 stipulations.
As stated in Section 3, to qualify for the exemption, the school must certify that, “Wearing a face covering would either cause a medical condition, or exacerbate an existing one, including respiratory issues that impede breathing, a health condition or a disability for the following student(s).”
For wrestlers, this means that that the school’s will have to submit exception requests to the PIAA for all competing athletes. Unless the individual exceptions are granted, the mask mandate will be enforced, even on the mat, for non-exempt student-athletes.
The form will not be required during district playoffs, but the PIAA will utilize it during inter-district play. The PIAA also approved all district use of the form if they wish during district playoffs.
Schools will notify in writing which students have an exemption to state mask policy. If School A cannot play School B with exempt students, School A will forfeit the game.
“It provides communication between schools so they know who has the exception and that they have prescreened all of their athletes,” said PIAA executive director Bob Lombardi said, to the Erie-Times News‘ Tom Reisenweber. “We used it in the fall and it worked quite well. It gave us the most up to date information for the event. It’s current information that helps communication.”
It should also be noted that officials do not have authority to enforce mask policy however National Federation of State High School’s (NFHS) guidelines allow for officials to govern mask mandate during play.
The full transcript and complete mask policy can be seen via in link in the tweet directly below.
BREAKING: PIAA approves Strategic Planning Committee minutes.
Mask policy form has been developed & PIAA will use it in any inter-District competition (ie. Regionals/States).
— Allie Berube (@allieberube) February 17, 2021
With respect to wrestling in particular, Giant Center capacity is 500 people. This includes anyone in the building. The PIAA is anticipating for wrestling that each qualifier will get two tickets and then go from there for capacity restrictions. Team personnel is limited to 25 people, this includes coaches/athletes/administrators. Anyone additional from school will need to pay.
From a scheduling standpoint, the following dates have been approved by the board concerning the wrestling postseason.
Information on the Start of the Spring Sports Season
Spring sports can begin as early as March 8, first play date Friday, March 26. Pre-season practices reduced from 15 to 10 required before competition. This passed the board unanimously.
The next meeting of the PIAA board is March 3 . This date would be about one week before spring sports are set to begin.
*For more information, please refer to the PIAA’s official website: www.piaa.org.